“Kingsmen: The Golden Circle”10/4/2017
A steady shot of adrenaline from start to finish
Following the success of its first installment, “Kingsmen: The Golden Circle” takes the best parts of the universe it’s created for itself, and gives a few simple spins to keep things exciting and fun.
The action begins right out of the gate, as Charlie (Edward Holcroft) returns to get revenge on Eggsy (Taron Egerton) after last seeing him humiliated in Kingsmen training, electrocuted and KO’d in the previous film. A fun opening action and chase sequence through the London streets shows a frantically paced mix of action and humor that sets the pace for the rest of the film.
The main baddy in this installment is Poppy (Julianne Moore), a terrifyingly upbeat drug lord who runs her empire, The Golden Circle, with a ruthless and a manic style from a 1950s-themed secret lair complete with robotic guard dogs and a retro diner and theater. She cooks up a plan to unleash a devastating plague on the world in an attempt to force the U.S. President to legalize all drugs, which would allow her to gain recognition for her brilliant business acumen and further her global agenda.
After an attack that leaves their ranks depleted, Eggsy and Merlin head to Kentucky to enlist the help of their U.S. counterparts, the Statesmen. In true style, the American outfit is hidden at a whiskey distillery. While Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry all deliver fine performances, each seems woefully underused, though Pedro Pascal’s Whiskey offers an excellent amount of excitement with his electrified bullwhip. A misunderstanding pits the two agencies against each other before the revelation that Harry (Colin Firth) is alive but suffering amnesia and thus having no memory of his past life and skills in the service of the Kingsmen.
Firth delivers a commanding ability to capture the feebleness and insecurity of someone who is fascinated by butterflies and other delicate insects, to the confidence of one who has received military training.
While the performance works, there is some concerns with bringing back a character you were otherwise convinced is dead. Sure, if someone is shot in the head, they can survive — but it’s very unlikely. Furthermore, explaining it by saying “yada, yada, yada… nanotech” is not an acceptable answer. As soon as Harry enters the frame, the only thing the audience can think is that every Kingsmen member who was assassinated could come back.
Along the same lines, the technological capabilities of spy gadgets seem to be easily forgotten. Their watch, which can hack anything with a microchip, is particularly infuriating, since almost immediately they forget this information and have a steady stream of technological mishaps that could easily have been avoided entirely.
Aside from these few issues that are more fun to discuss and don’t so much ruin the film, “The Golden Circle” delivers a steady shot of adrenaline from start to finish. The original film had the fantastic church sequence that became one of the most talked about moments of the film and, sadly, the sequel offers nothing nearly as memorable.
Where the first “Kingsmen” was a fresh take on the spy genre, “The Golden Circle” helps build the universe further with the Statesmen and bringing Harry back, which leads to some promising possibilities for a series on Netflix, which now holds the right to the Kingsmen as well as the other MillarWorld Comics and characters. Ticking all the Kingsmen boxes that fans of the original will be seeking to check off, “The Golden Circle” may not deliver on the same level of the first film, but anyone who loved Eggsy’s debut in the high body count adventure will enjoy this new trip. ♦